The Complete Birds of the World: Every Species Illustrated is a monster of a book that lives up to its title. Based on the most up-to-date IOC list of birds (at the time of printing), there are 10,711 species included in this book. The birds span 40 orders, 246 families, and 2,313 genera.
The format of the book has species information on the left page and color plates on the opposing side. There are 301 color plates and each is packed with birds, most drawn in similar poses to each other. This provides an amazing level of comparison as well as glorious eye candy.
A book this big is definitely not a “field” guide. Nor is the text all that thorough. Species information is condensed but has a lot in a small space: size, behavior, voice, habitat, and distribution are all included.
But this book is all about the artwork and it is definitely worth it. This is one of those books that you didn’t really know you needed but you do. It is a superb reference book and an inspiration to do some world birding. The size (and cost) are a bit daunting. I even had to adjust one of the shelves on my new bookcase for it to fit.
Birdfreak.com received a copy of The Complete Birds of the World: Every Species Illustrated by the publisher, Princeton University Press, to review here.